LaLiga, on Top of Its Game, Embraces SAP S/4HANA to Stay There

LaLiga is focused on keeping pace with the ever-changing entertainment industry.

It has perhaps the two best players in the world in Messi and Ronaldo. It has perhaps the two most popular teams in the world in Barcelona and Real Madrid. It has a massive following and revenues that are growing rapidly: LaLiga, which comprises all the first and second division professional football clubs in Spain.

Jose Guerra Alvarez, LaLiga’s director of Corporate Operations, was a guest at the SAP Global Partner Summit at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando to discuss the way in which the public SAP S/4HANA Cloud suite has enabled LaLiga to maintain its edge among entertainment options.

Rapid growth is, for most businesses, a blessing and a curse because while revenues and popularity expand, it becomes far more difficult to manage. LaLiga, which comprises 42 member clubs, has grown from 50 employees in 2013 to 400 today and generates revenues of €3.7 billion a year.

“Our current size has led to new needs in terms of decentralization of decision-making; security and traceability of transactions; availability, reliability and ease of use of data,” Guerra said. It has also had an impact on the ability of LaLiga to attract and retain talent, and on its ability to implement additional functionalities.

Flexibility and Innovation

“SAP is a great partner because it gives us flexibility and innovation,” Guerra said. Flexibility is important because LaLiga is growing very quickly and needs to adapt quickly to the changes that the entertainment industry is undergoing. Innovation because LaLiga must be able to implement the latest tools and respond to the challenges in its market with the utmost efficiency.

Guerra pointed out that new generations of fans, and the different ways in which those generations consume entertainment, requires LaLiga — and all businesses in the entertainment industry — to stay on the cutting edge of technology to prevent it from becoming the next extinction story.

“The entertainment industry has been undergoing a profound transformation in recent years,” Guerra said. “This requires the organizations competing in this industry to adapt quickly to all these changes, which often means making alterations to their structure and operations.”

He and his team, which is in charge of finance, budgeting, sourcing, IT, and HR, are also exploring ways to implement artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. He believes that these technologies can be implemented in stadiums, which have an average attendance of 26,000, to help with security and to better understand the fan experience.

He also thinks AI and machine learning can ultimately be used to improve the TV broadcasts, helping LaLiga to grow its television revenue.

“In the end, LaLiga’s objective is to help its clubs grow and, in turn, to boost the value of its competition,” Guerra said. “In general, we think any activity can be enhanced by such technology and we look forward to it.”